Tips for Making a Coping Skills Toolbox

When you’re overwhelmed and anxious, it’s tough to think clearly. In a moment of distress, it’s difficult to know exactly what to do to calm yourself down, how to cope. A coping skills toolbox is a place to keep a collection of things that will help make you feel better in a time of crisis.

It’s much easier to remember to go find your toolbox than to scrounge for ideas in a panic. Put things in your kit that will reassure you and help take your mind off of what’s bothering you. Here are a few ideas of what you can add.

Sense Stimulators

Image Credit: matsuyuki

A toolbox should contain items that positively stimulate your senses. Include something to touch, like a soft blanket. Add something to listen to. This could be soothing white noise, a mellow but positive album or your favorite audiobook.

Find a place or image that you find particularly pleasing to the eye and include a photo of it. Nature scenes are very relaxing. Something you can taste is another good addition. Throw in a box of soothing tea, chocolates or mints. Scents can also help alter your mood, so a scented candle or a bunch of dried lavender could be just what you need to cool off.


Image Credit: markusspiske

When your brain is bogged down by something upsetting, try focusing on something else for a while. Include some activities in your toolbox that will engage you in something positive. A puzzle works well, or a novel or adult coloring book. You might even want to include a movie on that you associate with happy memories—perhaps one from your childhood.

Support List

Image Credit: Green Chameleon

If the coping skills in your toolbox don’t seem to be doing the trick for you, never hesitate to ask for help. To round out your box, add in a list of contact information for people you can depend on — family members, friends, professionals — and don’t be afraid to use it.

Making a toolbox is a great way to prepare yourself for times when you need to refocus and calm down. It can also be a source of happiness on days when you just need a little pick-me-up. Anyone can make their own coping skills toolbox, so get started on yours today and let us know what you decide to include!

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